Blown out Oil Well still spewing oil, gas, and other material near Paincourtville

Morgan Landry

The Blown Out well located just a few hundred yards off Highway 70 near Paincourtville is actually closer to Grand Bayou and very close to Dow Chemical located along Highway 70. The well has been spewing out its treasures of black gold (oil) and natural gas along with other minerals hundreds of feet into the air since early Wednesday morning August 11.

The Issue in Assumption as of Wednesday morning:

Assumption Parish has been blessed with its own oil spill.  The closer to home reminder of the infamous “BP Oil Spill,” that is still ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico, is creating damage on a smaller scale here in Assumption between Grand Bayou and Paincourtville.  Several residents of the parish in the vicinity of the oil well have been evacuated as well as one business that has been forced to close during this evacuation.  Lives have been disrupted, travelers who normally travel the length of Highway 70 are being detoured once again, a reminder of the Dow incident just several years ago, which is upsetting schedules and there are some people who travel this section of highway on a regular basis that are wondering if they are being placed in any danger of any sort. There have been residents who have voiced a concern as to whether or not the 1-mile section is safe enough and are wondering if the natural gas situation could become dangerous enough to cause an explosion. Then there are the other chemicals (unknowns) that are being spewed out of this blown out oil well that leaves people guessing as to what they could possibly be breathing in.

Also, there is the concern over a controlled burn and what dangers that will throw out on the residents of the parish. Already the smell of oil is being brought to many in the towns of Paincourtville, Belle Rose and far away Napoleonville.

What’s Happened?

Early Wednesday morning, about 4 a.m. the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office received phone calls from motorists, traveling the section of La. Highway 70 just prior to the junction of La. Highway One, advising of a light mist of oil falling from the sky.  Bottom line is that it was raining oil from a blown out well situated some several hundred yards from the roadway.

Sheriff Mike Waguespack stated that deputies checked out the situation and found that the oilrig was spewing out an oil and gas mixture some 400 to 500 feet in the air.  He said that work crews at the oilrig were sleeping in a mobile home situated at the foot of the rig and had been caught by surprise when the rig blew during the night. The Sheriff said that crews were nearing completion of the well and getting ready to bring it into production when they went to bed. It was during the course of the early morning that the Blow Out took place. There is some speculation that the blow-out preventor failed but officials with the oil company and local officials are not ready to commit to that cause.

Since that time there have been several failed attempts at controlled burns. Work crews along with the help of Louisiana State Police Hazmat teams have attempted on several occasions to light the spewing well so as to have a controlled burn that would then turn into a flare. The controlled burn would allegedly provide a safer environment for work crews.  Although officials are stating that the controlled burn would not have an effect on residents or travelers there is research that indicates that there can be some concern when such a burnout takes place. The weather along with other elements being spewed out of the well has been a key factor in preventing the burn from taking place. A previous press release from the Assumption Parish Police Jury and a phone interview with Kim Torres, Public Information Officer for the jury and the jury’s Office of Homeland Security, stated on Monday morning, August 16, that the spewing oil build up is not a threat to the parish water supply located in nearby Bayou Lafourche.

What Next:    

Crews with Kajun Well Services, the people operating the well, along with Louisiana State Police HazMat and other emergency personnel will continue to attempt to cap the well. The controlled burn idea is still being contemplated to make the work environment safer for work crews. According to Kim Torres, if the controlled burn takes place residents might experience black smoke or perhaps white smoke and the possibility of unusual noises.   Currently the section of La. Highway 70 between Highway 996 and La. Highway One remains closed. Highway 1003 in Klotzville is also closed. Motorists are being detoured onto Highway 996 to the point of Highway 1000 and then to La. Highway One. Motorists trying to access Highway 70 from La. One should take Highway 1000 near Klotzville and then access Highway 996 to Highway 70.  Residents having any concerns about the situation can call the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office at 985-369-2912 or Kim Torres at 985-369-7435.